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LUNA PAPA

Had Fellini directed Björk musical videos, they might have resembled certain moments in Tajikistani filmmaker Bakhtiar Khudojnazarovís Luna Papa (1999), such as the scene near the end when the roof of a building flies off propelled by its ceiling fans while an unborn fetus provides voiceover narration. In other words, it tries too hard: people donít just talk or walk, they bellow and run pell-mell and behave with such operatic excess that it gets exhausting after about 10 minutes. In a country as benighted as Tajikistan, no doubt, with its deserts, its poverty, and its roving gangs of bandits in uniform and out, such artifice goes a long way toward making life tolerable.

No wonder, then, that 17-year-old Mamlakat (Chulpan Khamatova) dreams of becoming an actress, or that when a voice in the darkness claiming to be an actor calls to her after a performance of Othello, sheís seduced and impregnated. Outraged, her father takes her and her brain-damaged brother Nasreddin (Moritz Bleibtreu in a thankless role) from one theater to another to find the guilty ham. Had Khudojnazarov toned down the fabulizing a notch, this might have succeeded as an absurdist allegory or black comic satire. As it is, young Khamatova, who has a little of Felliniís Giulietta Masina in her, as well as Björk, almost pulls it off. In Russian and Persian with English subtitles. (107 minutes)


Issue Date: February 6 - 12, 2004
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